Report: Urgent action needed to protect press freedom in Europe

Press freedom in Europe is more fragile now than at any time since the end of the Cold War. That is the alarming conclusion of a report launched today by the 12 partner organizations of the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of Journalism and safety of journalists. The report, “Democracy at Risk”, analyses media freedom violations raised to the Platform in 2018. It provides a stark picture of the worsening environment for the media across Europe, in which journalists increasingly face obstruction, hostility and violence as they investigate and report on behalf of the public. The 12 Platform partners…

Montenegro: EFJ demands the immediate acquittal of Jovo Martinovic

On January 15, a court in Montenegro sentenced the independent journalist Jovo Martinovic to 18 months in jail. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and the undersigned partner organisations condemn the conviction of independent journalist Jovo Martinovic. The court sentenced Martinovic to 18 months in jail. His trial continued in the High Court of Podgorica, Montenegro, after he was charged by the Special Prosecution Office for A) the criminal act of creating a criminal organisation and B) the criminal act of unauthorised production, possession and traffic of narcotics. The judge in her verdict stated that he…

Azerbaijan violated the rights of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered on 10 January its judgment in the case of Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova. The independent investigative journalist was the target of a systematic smear campaign comprising threats, intimidation and gross violations of her privacy designed to prevent her from pursuing her journalistic work. The ECHR found violations of Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights by Azerbaijan in respect of these intrusions into her private life. The European Federation of Journalists welcomes the decision of the court. Khadija Ismayilova, an award-winning journalist well known for deep investigations into…

Italian journalists assaulted by neo-fascists in Rome

On 7 January 2019, Federico Marconi and Paolo Marchetti, an Italian journalist and a photographer both working for the Italian weekly magazine Espresso, have been attacked by members of two neo-fascist groups, Avanguardia Nazionale and Forza Nuova. The two journalists were near the Verano monumental cemetery in Rome to cover the event organised by Avanguardia Nazionale in memory of the Acca Larentia killings, in 1978. A group of neo-fascists approached Marchetti and took his camera’s memory card. Other militants then surrounded the journalist Federico Marconi and began to hit him with kicks and slaps. The boss of Forza Nuova together…

Lithuania: EFJ urges Parliament to guarantee LRT independence

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) calls on again Lithuanian Parliament to guarantee the full independence of public broadcaster LRT. The Director General of LRT, Monika Garbaciauskaite, issued today a letter expressing strong concern about proposed legal changes in LRT governance. A new draft law on LRT is to be debated by the Lithuanian Parliament on 11 January. “The latest developments that are now taking place may have a direct impact on LRT’s independence and at the same time pose serious threats to freedom of speech and democracy on the whole,” reacted Monika Garbaciauskaite. Following the report, issued on 12…

177 journalists will spend New Year’s Eve in prison in Europe

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) strongly calls for release of imprisoned journalists in Europe. Following the reports from the EFJ national affiliates, 177 journalists will spend New Year’s Eve in prison in Europe: 159 in Turkey; 11 in Azerbaijan; 5 in Russia; 2 in Ukraine. Read the full list, here. In Turkey, a significant number of journalists continued to be detained on charges related to alleged terrorism, while others were convicted in 2018 to heavy imprisonment sentences, including life sentences. No progress has been recorded concerning journalists currently serving behind bars life-imprisonment sentences or very long imprisonment sentences. Another trend consists of…

IFJ and EFJ condemn terrorist attack against Skai TV and Khatimerini newspaper

A bomb blast today damaged a building in Athens housing the headquarters of Greece’s private radio and television network Skai and Greek daily newspaper Khatimerini, but there were no casualties. Anti-terrorist police opened an investigation into the attack that focused on Greek extremist groups. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) join their Greek affiliates in condemning the blast as “an attack on media pluralism”. The homemade device went off at around 2:37 am, 45 minutes after an anonymous telephone warning to another TV network. Police cordoned off the neighbourhood in the Athens suburb of Neo Phaliro and evacuated the building, which contains…

EFJ and partners press for changes to protect journalist safety in Slovakia

On December 6, 2018, nine partner organizations and observers of the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists conducted a press freedom solidarity mission to Slovakia to press for full justice in the case of assassinated journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, who were murdered on February 21, 2018. The delegation – from the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited, Index on Censorship, International News Safety Institute (INSI), International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International, Rory Peck Trust, along…

EFJ and press freedom groups to carry out solidarity visit to Slovakia

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and eight leading international press freedom organizations representing the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, gathered for a semi-annual meeting in Vienna, will conduct a brief solidarity visit to Bratislava, Slovakia on the afternoon of Thursday, December 6, 2018. The groups will highlight the need for further progress in the investigation into the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak. Representatives of the nine organizations will hold a meeting with Slovak government officials and conduct a solidarity visit to the offices of Aktuality.sk, where Jan Kuciak…

Council of Europe debates “quality journalism” and safety of journalists

Meeting in Strasbourg on 27-30 November, the Council of Europe Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) went through the details of a draft “Declaration on the financial sustainability of quality journalism in the digital age”. The text proposes for example to create “redistribution mechanisms between online platforms and media companies” and to “support measures to counter the progressive deterioration of the working conditions of journalists”. Most of the discussion was dedicated to the preamble of the draft Declaration: whereas most delegations agreed that “quality journalism extends the range of diverse, credible, interesting and timely information available to the…

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